Caring for Patients with Unique Dental Needs
We understand the challenges that may arise as a person ages and provide compassionate dental care that caters to the unique needs of our elderly patients. A person with arthritis, for instance, may neglect daily oral care due to movement problems that interfere with brushing and flossing. Additionally, many senior patients take medications that cause side effects, such as dry mouth, that contribute to decay. Some may not have seen a dentist in years. Finding a dental practice that specializes in treating older patients and has the expertise to earn the trust of senior patients is essential to a positive dental experience and lasting oral health.
Understanding the Challenges
Our dentist has experience catering to elderly patients and is well-versed in the unique challenges commonly associated with senior dental health such as these:
Inability to brush and floss properly. Medical conditions that affect movement, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers, make daily brushing and flossing difficult, if not impossible, to perform. It’s essential that patients who have difficulty brushing see their dentist regularly for thorough cleanings and exams. The dentist may also recommend a power toothbrush to make daily oral hygiene more comfortable.
Dry mouth. Medications, cancer treatment, and certain disease contribute to dry mouth. Many seniors attempt to curb dry mouth by sucking on hard candies, which greatly increases a person’s risk of gum disease and tooth decay. The dentist will provide thorough exams to detect early warning signs and offer oral hygiene tips that will help restore moisture. In general, people with dry mouth should drink plenty of water, chew sugar-free gums and candies, and use a fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse.
Dentures. If you wear dentures, the dentist will check to make sure they fit properly, look for any irritation in the mouth, and examine the appliance for wear and tear. Aside from general discomfort, ill-fitting dentures can lead to more serious oral health concerns. Most dentures need to be relined or replaced every 7 to 10 years to ensure optimal function and comfort.
A Compassionate Approach
Providing comprehensive dental care for people with special needs requires a high level of expertise, patience, and compassion. Fortunately, advances in dentistry have significant benefits for elderly patients. Oral or intravenous sedation allows for even the most complex procedures while patients sleep. Less invasive procedures minimize recovery time. Even patient education has improved with new tools to help illustrate oral care techniques for both patients and caregivers. Overall, with a dentist who understands special needs for elderly patients, oral healthcare can be a positive an empowering experience for everyone involved.